Seventy Leaders Are Chosen
16The Lord said to Moses:
Choose 70 of Israel's respected leaders and go with them to the sacred tent. 17While I am talking with you there, I will give them some of your authority, so they can share responsibility for my people. You will no longer have to care for them by yourself.
18As for the Israelites, I have heard them complaining about not having meat and about being better off in Egypt. So tell them to make themselves acceptable to me, because tomorrow they will have meat. 19-20In fact, they will have meat day after day for a whole month—not just a few days, or even 10 or 20. They turned against me and wanted to go back to Egypt. Now they will eat meat until they get sick of it.
21Moses replied, “At least 600,000 grown men are here with me. How can you say there will be enough meat to feed them and their families for a whole month? 22Even if we butchered all our sheep and cattle, or caught every fish in the sea, we wouldn't have enough to feed them.”
23The Lord answered, “I can do anything! Watch and you'll see my words come true.”
24Moses told the people what the Lord had said. Then he chose 70 respected leaders and went with them to the sacred tent. While the leaders stood in a circle around the tent, Moses went inside, 25and the Lord spoke with him. Then the Lord took some authority from Moses and gave it to the 70 leaders. And when the Lord's Spirit took control of them, they started shouting like prophets. But they did it only this one time.
26Eldad and Medad were two leaders who had not gone to the tent. But when the Spirit took control of them, they began shouting like prophets right there in camp. 27A boy ran to Moses and told him about Eldad and Medad.
28Joshua was there helping Moses, as he had done since he was young. And he said to Moses, “Sir, you must stop them!”
29But Moses replied, “Are you concerned what this might do to me? I wish the Lord would give his Spirit to all his people so everyone could be a prophet.” 30Then Moses and the 70 leaders went back to camp.
The Lord Sends Quails
31Some time later the Lord sent a strong wind that blew quails in from the sea until Israel's camp was completely surrounded with birds, piled up about a meter high for many kilometers in every direction. 32The people picked up quails for two days—each person filled at least ten large baskets. Then they spread them out to dry. 33But before the meat could be eaten, the Lord became angry and sent a deadly disease through the camp.
34After they had buried the people who had been so greedy for meat, they called the place “Graves for the Greedy.”
35Israel then broke camp and traveled to Hazeroth.
Have you ever wanted something so badly but didn’t feel like God cared enough to provide? Jesus reminded us to ask God “give us this day our daily bread,” but what I want and what I need are not always the same thing. When I am discontented with the “daily bread” that God supplies it becomes easier for me to believe that God doesn’t want what’s best for me.
In this story, the Israelites again complained about their lack of meat. As they saw it, God’s provision was inadequate (vv 4-9). Moses was exasperated that the people had angered God and that he was burdened to lead such a demanding group alone. He wished God would kill him rather than allow the current situation to continue. Fortunately for Moses, God provided a different solution. He gave Moses seventy leaders with whom to share authority and responsibility and he promised to supply enough for the people “to eat meat until they get sick of it” (v21). Moses couldn’t see how they could obtain enough meat but God wasn’t expecting Moses to supply. He provided seventy helpers and two prophets full of the Spirit. Moses got more than he asked for but was happy to assure Joshua that God’s provision of the Spirit to other leaders didn’t threaten him personally (vv 26-29). Moses wasn’t greedy for prestige or honour and so God helped him share the load. On the other hand, the people were greedy for meat and so God caused many to die even as they tasted what they had so bitterly demanded. How often do the very things I have grumbled for end up hurting me once I receive them? How many “graves for the greedy” (v 34) have I dug in my life?
O gracious Father, who knows everything that I need and has the power and desire to provide, please forgive when I demand what is beyond your plan. Please help me to see your good plans and provision and to live in contentment and thankfulness. Help me to learn how to really ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen